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Official wants more land for parks in Jefferson County

March 03, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Commissioner Dale Manuel said during a budget meeting Wednesday that he wants the commissioners to set aside $1.5 million to purchase additional park and recreation land in the county.

Manuel said it makes sense for the county to purchase the land now rather than putting it off until later, when prices for land will be higher.

"The price of land in this county is doing nothing but going up," Manuel said in an interview after the budget meeting with the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission.

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The issue was discussed during a budget meeting, but Manuel proposes the $1.5 million come from slot machine revenue the county has received from Charles Town Races & Slots.

The commission has about $13 million from slot machine revenue, said Commissioner Jim Surkamp, who supports Manuel's proposal.

Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission officials on Wednesday suggested that $600,000 be set aside immediately for land acquisition, but Manuel said he wanted to increase it to $1.5 million.

County Commissioner Greg Corliss said Wednesday he also supports Manuel's proposal, saying sports programs in the county are running out of space for events.

Corliss referred to a youth soccer program which currently uses property belonging to Edge Hill Cemetery along Seminary Street. The soccer program is not going to be able to use the property much longer because it is needed for the cemetery, Corliss said.

The county will need to provide land for soccer facilities and possible youth football programs, Corliss said.

Corliss agreed with Manuel that it makes sense to buy the land now.

"Today's prices make more sense than tomorrow's prices. We don't need to develop it right away, we just need to buy it," Corliss said.

Manuel said money from impact fees can be used to develop the purchased lands and build facilities on them.

The commissioners have passed impact fees for schools and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and the commissioners are considering impact fees for parks and recreation needs, Manuel said.

Commissioner Jane Tabb declined to comment on Manuel's proposal, saying she would rather discuss it first when the commissioners are meeting to formulate their budget.

When Surkamp made a similar proposal last month, Tabb said past county commission members saved the $13 million for new county offices.

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